Uside down plants

concretenprimrosesSeptember 23, 2009

Part of a show this summer at the local art gallery was upside down plants of all types, tomatoes cucumbers, house plants you name it. They were planted in detergent bottles and other large plastic bottles, with the plant coming out of the spout and the bottoms cut out for dirt and watering.

they were hung so the opening or spout hole was on the bottom and the plant was growing out of it. I'm not sure how well they produced, but it was a fun recycling project. I might try a few next year.


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I tried it this past summer with tomatoes, but I waited too late to plant. Then we had blistering heat and no rain for three months. i watered them every day but they just couldn't survive the unrelenting heat. I will try again next spring but plant way earlier. I may try this fall too; guess I need to get busy.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 12:29AM
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I would think there would be a huge buildup of heat inside the container that would cook the poor plants. If I hung them upsidedown I'm sure all the dirt would drain out. How do you water,poke hole in the top?? I don't think this is my thing. Have enough trouble getting tomatoes to produce out here. They either have very small or huge tomatoes for very short time or have so many in a week get ripe that I can't keep up & then quit. I would like tomatoes all summer and into fall. I fertilize with Miracle Gro for tomatoes but my plant this yr just sits there doing nothing after producing for a few weeks. Of course we have had some 108 degree days & that seems to knock the steam out of them. Jan

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 1:16AM
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I actually tried this this year with a cherry tomato in a 2 liter pop bottle. Problem I had was the plant wanted to grow upright so curved up. I planted to start with young plants hoping they would grow straight down. Wasn't the case.
I did get cherry tomato's though off the strangely curved plants! haha.
I don't know if flowers would do the same thing but I bet trailing petunia's or other trailing plants would do fine and work best.,,,,Debbie

    Bookmark   September 24, 2009 at 11:47AM
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I guess it might not work well if it is very hot and dry. My tomatoes were terrible this summer and they were planted in the ground. It just wasn't a good year. We had lots of rain, more than usual, which the cucumbers loved at least, had a bummper crop of them.
I think probably you'd have to put some soft barrier around the plant stem to keep the dirt in.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 11:35AM
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You could something like burlap to keep the dirt in. I've never gotten around to doing the upside down planters. I've seen them in the 5 gallon buckets. I think other size containers might be too small.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2009 at 5:46PM
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I live in the high desert with well over 100 degree temps during the day all summer. I tried that topsy turvy planter this year in morning sun only. The tom plant suffered, and the planter shredded in the heat. They dont work in the desert. But my gf tried one on the coast where she lives and got several tomatoes.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2009 at 6:13PM
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Topsy-turvy planters, Down-Under pots, 5 gallon buckets , the idea's the same. They're tricky to use but it is possible to get healthy plants growing in them. I've had pretty good luck (killed a lot of plants in the process too) so I'd like to pass along a few things that work for me....most of the time.
1. Realize that you're expecting a plant to grow in an unnatural state, upside down. Among other things, being upside down challenges the plant's natural circulatory system.
2. Not every plant will work upside down. Best plants to avoid are trailing, vineing ones. This takes out climbing/vineing tomatoes and other "hangy downy" types. Their stem structure just has trouble fighting gravity. Go for the ones that have a more woody stem.
3. Dryness is a big issue. Water flows down and you're expecting the plant to grow upside down with it's roots basically in the air. Tricky one that. I've had good luck using ice cubes for water. They melt slowly allowing the roots time to grab some moisture. Also helps avoid a puddle on the floor under the pot. If the pot completely dries out you need to submerge the whole thing to re-wet. Hard to do with a big plant. I haven't personally tried it but I know folks who have rigged up a drip system for watering.
( I also use ice cubes on my bonsai plants for the same reason plus there's no danger of soil washing out of the pot.)
4. Some of these "pots" are just too thin and/or flimsy. I suspect some of the lighter weight ones allow light to penetrate into the root ball. The sunlight eats the plastic too. Cheap stuff.
5. Realize that the plant will want to curl up around the side of the pot. It's responding to light and that's as it should be.
6. Many of these pots are just too small, you have to allow room for the roots. This is where the 5 gallon bucket system trumps the others.

Try growing a bush (determinant) type of tomato instead of a vine. I think I'm going to try peppers or chile next year myself.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 10:50AM
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thanks for the good info nmgirl!
I'm not expecting great results, I just think it would be fun.

    Bookmark   October 25, 2009 at 3:22PM
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This might work in the high dessert. Son in law took a wire basket, filled it with soil, planted tomato, and I added some herb to keep the soil moist==or from drying out. Then hung it from the edge of the roof so it gets late afternoon sun and heat and we did get some tomatoes. But this was a off year so did not get many. The main thing is to keep it wet and fertilized. Plants just went over the side.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2009 at 7:53PM
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I believe you could add polymer crystals to help keep the soil from drying out too quickly

    Bookmark   November 26, 2009 at 3:48PM
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